Burger King Franchise to Pay $60,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit
Employer Allowed Abuse of Pregnant Employee and Fired Her After She Complained, Federal Agency Charged
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – North Georgia Foods, Inc., a Georgia-based company operating several Burger King restaurants, including one in Murphy, North Carolina, has agreed to pay $60,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex harassment, retaliation, and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from at least August 2018 through approximately July 2019, a team member at North Georgia Foods’ Murphy, North Carolina location was sexually harassed by a male assistant manager. The harassment included vulgar sexual comments, threatening behavior, and unwelcome sexual touching. The team member complained multiple times and asked not to work alone with the male assistant manager. North Georgia Foods did not take action to stop the harassment but instead removed the team member from the schedule completely in June 2019. The company refused to communicate with the team member and later refused to reinstate her employment. The EEOC also alleged the team member was discriminated against because of her pregnancy.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which protects employees from sex-based harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. North Georgia Foods, Inc, d/b/a Burger King, Case No. 1:22-cv-00049) in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its voluntary conciliation process.
The outcome of this case demonstrates that employers who ignore complaints of sex-based harassment in the workplace or retaliate against employees for asserting their rights under Title VII will be held accountable.
The suit was resolved by a two-year consent decree that prohibits North Georgia Foods from discriminating and retaliating against employees in violation of Title VII. North Georgia Foods must also prominently post a telephone number for an off-site reporting official, revise its written anti-discrimination policies, and train employees on the process for reporting complaints of discrimination and the requirements of Title VII, including its anti-retaliation provisions.
“The outcome of this case demonstrates that employers who ignore complaints of sex-based harassment in the workplace or retaliate against employees for asserting their rights under Title VII will be held accountable,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Melinda C. Dugas.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Charlotte District is charged with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina.
More information is available about sexual harassment is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment .